For anyone born after 1960 or after, the full retirement age is 67. This is the age that you will be able to receive your full retirement benefits. However, if you are planning to retire at the age of 67, you should be aware that you may need to make some decisions about your health insurance prior to retirement. Medicare provides coverage for all adults over the age of 65 or with long-term disabilities, but to take advantage of this care, you must enroll at the appropriate time to receive the best coverage at the best price.

When Should You Apply for Medicare Coverage?

In order to receive Medicare coverage, you will need to apply during the initial enrollment period. This period begins three months prior to your birthday and ends three months after you turn 65. In order to receive Medicare benefits, it is critical that you enroll in coverage during this initial period so that you can ensure you gain coverage that will last you throughout the remainder of your life.

Upon initial enrollment, you can enroll in both Medicare Part A and Part B. Part A enrollment is required, whereas Part B enrollment is optional. However, if you decide to decline Part B enrollment and that you would like to receive this coverage at a later time, you may experience a delay in coverage and be forced to pay a higher premium payment.

However, if you are choosing to retire after the age of 65, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll in Part B at a later time. Even with a Special Enrollment Period, you are still required to enroll in Part A during the initial enrollment period.

In order to qualify for Special Enrollment, you must be over the age of 65 and still be receiving healthcare coverage through a plan sponsored by either your or your spouse’s employment. This period begins as soon as you turn 65 and ends eight months after you retire or the healthcare plan you are using is terminated. Taking advantage of this enrollment plan allows you to minimize excess costs on Part B premiums that are not necessary.

Another important thing to consider is the specifics of the coverage offered through your employer. If the company you work for has more than 20 employees, your employer is required to offer adults over the age of 65 the exact same benefits as their younger employees. However, employers with fewer than 20 employees can require you to sign up for Medicare, which will serve as your primary insurance, allowing your employer to only pay for services that Medicare will not cover. Now, not all employers will force this, so it is important to be aware of what your specific circumstances require.

What Medicare Coverage Will You Receive?

As we mentioned, Medicare Part A and Part B are the two main coverage options available. Part A helps to cover inpatient and hospital expenses, and Part B covers outpatient visits, testing, and procedures. As far as cost goes, Part A does not require a premium payment as long as you or your spouse have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. If your spouse qualifies, they must also be over the age of 62. Part B coverage does require a premium payment, which is dependent on your monthly income.

In addition to Part A and B, you also can select a number of other plans, the most common of which are Part C or Part D plans. Medicare Part D is designed to cover prescription medications and requires a premium payment and usually a copayment with each medication. Part C, or Advantage plans, run through private insurers and encompass all the benefits of Part A and Part B. These plans can also include prescription drug coverage and coverage for hearing, vision, and dental services, which are not offered through Original Medicare.

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